The mood was *literally* set. I sat up against the booth side of the table as a waiter came over to light the candles around us. The ambiance: sophisticated. My date extended his hand with the wine menu instructing me to "pick a bottle."
This is what love feels like, I thought.
But before the wine bottle could make its way over to the table, this tall man looked at me, smiled genuinely, and asked The Rudest Question of All Time: 'What’s been eating at me is, why a pretty girl like yourself is single?"
Uh, good question, my dude. I panicked as my brain ran through some answers:
- Do I tell him it's because "I'm so busy," knowing damn well I spent all of last Sunday fully in my bed?
- Do I say I've been "focusing on me," as if I don't have six dating apps clogging up storage on my phone?
- Or do I tell him that nearly every spark I've felt with a man in the past three years has either led to ghosting (him, not me) or getting the "I'm not looking for anything serious right now" convo?
My eye started twitching in a way that only happens in the moments leading up to a dentist appointment, so I excused myself to the bathroom in a near panic. Holy fuck, I'm single, I thought. Like, really single. Like, I can't tell this dude why I'm really single because I don't even know why...I splashed some cold water on my face to calm down.
Well, something must have been in that fancy sink water because an epiphany hit me. Why should *I* have to justify my singleness just because I'm on a date with a guy who is 10 years older than me and can afford an expensive bottle of wine?
I know he didn't mean it to be some intense, heavy question. Plus, most people use their answer to humblebrag about traveling all over the country or being so engulfed with work because they're about to make partner at their fancy law firm. But there are other ways to elicit such flexes without asking such an odd question to which no one ever really knows the answer.
"It insinuates that there's something wrong with being single."
And if people are using this question as a way to suss out their date's insecurities or red flags, they might as well just say, "So, can you tell me what's wrong with you now so I don't have to waste my time here?" without sugarcoating it. Because that's ultimately what the person wants to know, right? Like, Oh, can I handle that you have an obvious fear of commitment given the explanation you just told me? Probably not. And just like that, #Ghosted.
I get that self-awareness is sexy. But if you ask me why I'm single, you're asking me to go down a long list of horrible exes who may have tainted my view of relationships and could very well affect my emotional well-being for the rest of my life. Are you mentally and physically prepared to handle my sob story over Jollibee on a Tuesday night? I'd guess not, and I really don't feel like going down that road when I'm trying to get to know someone new.
This question also creates a narrative about riding solo that I personally do not subscribe to. It insinuates that there's something wrong with being by yourself—as if not wanting to be in a relationship is a bad thing. But really, I'd rather sleep alone, happy in my bed, than have to deal with someone else's snores that keep me awake all night. And hey, it's pretty fun doing whatever I want, whenever I want.
So, when I returned to the table—looking and feeling much less flushed than when I'd left—I smiled, looked my date right in the eye, and said: "Because I've wanted to be." Although he'd forgotten what he'd asked me in the first place (I could tell since he shook his head the same way I do when I can't hear someone), it was the truth.
No one actually knows why they're single, and that's because there are a million reasons why a person isn't attached to someone else. To ask someone to justify that to you is a presumptuously bold and backhanded move. You're really digging for something else, and what a bad precedent to set about how you operate so early in the game, no?
So, please, everyone who's dating now, hear me out: Out of all the questions you can ask someone new, let's make a pledge to just do away with "So, why are you single?" Asking about it should be canceled for good.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.